Keith talks about his experience of coproduction, how to lift experience gives the work of coproduction validity, nothing about us without us is a phrase coined from the disabled peoples movement it's really important concept to coproduction, lived experience really being at the heart of coproduction the value of coproduction being immense!

Mm hmm. Do you want to introduce yourself? Hi, I'm Keith Rhodes. I'm a personally lived experience, and I work for, um the teaching North Suffolk and Norfolk teaching partnership, which means I do work at the University of East Anglia and Suffolk University. Thanks, Keith

Keith, would you share with me an experience of co production you have been involved in, Well, the most current one. That's very interesting is, uh, through Suffolk Voices, which is the lived experience group in Suffolk at the university's Suffolk. We are pioneering work on doing podcasts, developing web content

Uh, basically, um, really giving a presence to lived experience people on the Suffolk and Norfolk, uh, teaching partnership website. So I sort of lived experiences almost sort of front and central to the whole site, which is beneficial, hopefully to prospective social workers. What impact do you feel? I think this approach has on, um, sort of the work that you're doing

I think the main thing about, uh, genuine co production or value of co production is, um, it gives a validity to, uh, the role of, uh, the person who lived experience. Um, it's very easy to to fall into a tick box exercise where local authorities or the part of education or or the health authorities they are told, or their funders that they must have people who have lived experience there to facilitate the funding mechanism. So often you would go along, you would introduce yourself

You'd say something about your story, you perfect for attending. And then you get the funding. Um, I think co production is more about, um, being the driver with other agencies in producing something that is jointly owned

Um, there's an old saying in the disability movement from from the eighties and nineties, nothing about us without us. And I think that is key to the whole positioning of the person who lived experience. Um, if we're not there and we're not contribute if we're not there, not just contributed, but we're not there and driving the process, then the whole thing is a bit of a share

Um, and I think in what we do within the Suffolk and Norfolk teaching partnership, we are very much seen as the as the key driver in that piece of work. For example, when the when the funding ends for the person who's driving it at the council is being set up, that the project will continue and people like myself will be the people who will continue it. So you know, we're not just there for a short term involvement and then go off and get invited to do another project in a couple of years for a couple of weeks and then go up again

That's the difference between if you like, uh, week consultation and genuine oh, production, Thank you. That really did take him in a bit of a journey around what difference coproduction makes. So what changes did you see in your particular project As a result of co production, I'll be honest and say is in the early stages

But what I the feeling I get is that, for example, we have a section on the South African Norfolk Partnership website for people lived experience. If we don't generate the articles, if we don't generate the podcasts, the material for social work professionals and prospective social work students and current social work students, they ain't going to happen. So there is an emphasis on us producing rather than just being there, and someone producing on Al Bahar do you understand what I mean? Whereas in the past, what would happen is you would go along, you'd be interviewed ironically, and then the person would go off and summarise your interview and that would be your contribution

Whereas this were actually the people who have got to produce the material. If we don't produce the material, the project fails and the website doesn't have. It doesn't gain its validity because there wouldn't be a lived experience voice on it

And you talked about social workers. I'm wondering about the impact that co production or your co production that you've been involved in has on individuals, organisations and societies That whole I think, uh, someone embrace it. I think some will be frightened by it

Um uh, clarify that by saying that, uh, I think historically the power base, the power base will always be with the social work because they are the people that will basically be the arbiter of the good and bad news. But there will also be the people that through their team managers have a certain budget. So the social worker will always be the be the be the power base in the relationship

I think that they I think some people, although they would never admit it. I can think of one or two examples, probably at the academic institutions, where when you start to say, give us our own funding, let us generate our own stuff. It's like, Oh, you know, we we want you in the room

We want you to be part of our team. We're not quite sure We want you to have that much influence or that much funding. So there's a There's a pullback

There's a resistance. I think that still exists. I think human nature, we'll always human nature of people will always be a situation where people tend to want more for their own names, even if they don't even if they're scared to admit it

In these days, where you've got to be seem to be saying the right thing. So I think there has been progress. I think people do see the benefit of people who lived the experience

But I still think there's a resistance to let us too far into the room and it's almost take over the take over the island if you like. Yeah, it's really important points. So in your opinion as someone that has got lots of lived and learn knowledge and experience, what difference would be what difference could happen

Now where do you see kind of people being in the room? And what difference do you think that would make? I think there. I think there are, the more influence you have, the more you're actually driving the projects, the more it becomes something that is realistic and a real life. There is a there is a There is one danger I seeing that, and I brought this up forward when we've had discussions on co production

Is that the beauty of a person who lived experience or person? We're a service user in old terms is that they are independent enough two to be the angry voice on the periphery. And that's quite useful because you can actually turn around you to your university or to your local authority or to your teacher partnerships like, No, I don't agree with this. You're you're you're you're putting words into my mouth or I'm becoming you

I mean, that's that is, there is a real danger that people lived. Experience can also almost come, um, professional people who lived experience by the back door, and they almost become like a member of the local authority or like a member of the academic institution. And then I think, in the eyes of other people who lived experience, you lose your validity because you've become one of them rather than one of us

So I think that's a big danger. I've I've always tried to, you know, with humour if you like. I've always tried to ensure that I work with the local authority

I worked with the act with the universities, but I always make it quite clear that I'm still still that kind of person who wants to be a bit of a troublemaker and keep on their toes, because you've got to have that because you become it becomes too comfortable that if you become a member of the university, you lose your identity as a as a person who lived experience. I don't know if you understand that, but that's the tie in directly. Yeah, I totally understand it and thank you for really important point

Um, so I'm wondering about how co production makes you feel personally. So what? What impacts? And as it makes you feel personally, Personally, I enjoy it. I mean, personally, I was like, I wouldn't do anything unless I didn't enjoy

Um I enjoy the, uh, the interaction with with the university's, um, both on a kind of almost like a, you know, going to the thing and travelling to the event, talking at the event, meeting the people and doing the social bits as well. So I enjoy that. Um uh, but I also think, uh, in this instance we have lived experience through the teaching partnership

I do think there is genuine desire for a positive outcome. I don't think the individual is involved. See me, as I add on to the to the process that is record that is required by the funders

I think there is a genuine a genuine interest in what I've got to say. Um and you know, to be honest, there's been numerous examples in my lifetime where I've been involved in what was used to be called consultation exercises, where basically it was pointless, absolutely pointless. I turned up, I got a cup of tea, I might have been given a sandwich, and I got sent to be way and said, Thanks a lot

So I think there is a I wouldn't do it unless I thought there was a real a real purpose to my role. Uh, representing others as well have lived experience because I think that's another key point. I think I feel that I've got a role as someone who's got a strong voice to maybe speak up for people who haven't got a voice who maybe the people that need the advocates from the social workers who maybe not do it as well as they should

So I'm there to sort of almost represent them indirectly as well. Thanks. Thank you

So I'm wondering about sort of what it hasn't worked so well. And also, if you had any top tips to making things work really well in coproduction, what would they be? I think things that haven't worked so well. Um, that's Frank

I think there was. I, um we did some co production work around, um uh, greater service user involvement previously a year or so ago, and it turned into a bit of a Although it was enjoyable, it turned into a bit of an academic exercise. We ended up creating or the person who led the group ended up creating circles and into circles

And there was the services are here and the institution here. And it got very highfalutin, very academic. And by the end of it, we're all scratching our heads and saying I don't think we really I don't think he really developed this

Uh, this was kind of discussed. And then someone went away and did a few nice graphic sort of scream and then presented it to to to the universities. And it was like, What on earth does that mean? Um so that didn't really feel like co production in the end, because I I feel co production to work has got to be something that people understand

If you if you if you tuck it away in layers and layers of academia, then that's not something that's going to be useful. Certainly not something that's useful to to current social work students or whatever. It's got to be accessible stuff

Um, not dumbing down because there's always a danger of dumbing down, and I hate that term, and that does happen a lot, but it's got all the stuff that people understand, and I think, Um, sometimes the the people who lean stuff can get caught up in there. You know, their their academic backgrounds, and it gets a bit confusing. Uh, top tips, Did you say, um, top tips? I think you just got You've got to take time to get to know you're get to know your subjects

And, I mean, in terms of the lead people in the local authorities and the lead people in the academic establishments and us as people who lived experience, there needs to be a settling down period where you kind of if you know that you can work together and that you trust each other and that you know, that there is a space to say I don't like it. I don't want it. Not in my name kind of thing

Um, sometimes people are, uh and that could be down to. And the problem with that is, uh, time. Sometimes projects don't have enough time to to reach their, uh, proper conclusion, and they get rushed through or resources

If if a local authority or uh, teaching partnership or an academic establishment and have very limited budget, there's issues around transport, getting people to the meetings. There's issues around accessibility at the meetings. Can they be online? Can they be in person? Um, then But then the I think the key one is you need to get to a position where you feel that the people you're working with genuinely see you as not a person who lived experience but a person who lived experience but also a person who is your your equal

I can't think of the word because it all turns into kind of, you know, I don't want to say academic equal because co production should be available to all people living experience, regardless of their abilities. But there needs to be a point where you actually see yourself in the room that you are a team that you're working together, Um and that everything you produce, you celebrate together. I don't know if you've seen the video we recently done on co production for World Social Work Day, and that was a brilliant piece of work because that really demonstrated that everybody really owned that bit of work

And it was kind of like whether it be the leader, the leader of social work voices or whether it be the local authority media team at the Norfolk and Suffolk University or people lived experience. We were equally as proud of the piece of work, and we all went around patting each other on the back saying and what a great job we did. And that felt that we all did that together and there was no hierarchy of, you know, this has been done by the local authority, thanked people

We let people we've lived experience taking part because we didn't just take part. We actually that we drove the whole thing. That's where I think it's important to

That would be my boy crib, See if you like. Well, thank you, definitely taking me on a journey. And, um so my final question is for you

What is the value of co production? No, If it's done right, I think the baby cocoa production is that you produce something that is, uh, people can be hopefully proud of equally own. And I think you always have to keep keep insight your overall aim of the project. In my case, I do co production to enable students, social workers, prospective prospective students who wish to apply to the local apply to the universities who want to become social workers

Um, it's my aim to hopefully enable future social workers or those social workers to be better social workers, which, in a way will help me, uh, get a better service for myself and for future Keith Rhodes like me that come along afterwards. So it's there is a selfish We're not just doing it because we want to be involved in the project. I think we generally want their better social workers a better social care systems

Um, so as long as co production has a has a genuine aim and process and outcome, I think that's a great thing to be involved. Thank you very much. I'm gonna stop the recording there

Is that okay? Yep..

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